With beautiful conditions around him and an orca nipping at his feet, Tim Stewart decided to seize the moment and jump into the sea.

Stewart, of Army Bay, has been identified as the lone kayaker captured on incredible drone video footage swimming with orca at Army Bay, in Whangaparaoa, by topVIEW Photography photographer Sam Kynman-Cole.

The 57-year-old has been in and around the water all his life and has had similar encounters with dolphins in the past, he said.

After hearing about sightings of a pod of orca in the area, he headed down to Army Bay to try his luck.


"I was down at Army Bay and waited for about another half an hour or so and they came around. I went out in the kayak and yeah,'' he says happily.

Asked about the moment he got out of his vessel, he said: "I wasn't [scared] at the start. But when that other one - he was at my feet - and I went down under the water and I turned around and faced him, he had his mouth open!

"I turned back around to hop up to see where the kayak was going - towards the rocks. As I kept looking behind me, all I could see were his teeth on the end of my feet.

"I thought: 'He just wants to play, but I hope he doesn't drag me down for a play','' he laughed.

Despite some flak he was getting from a few people, for approaching the mammals, Stewart said it was an incredible moment and he was reacting to the orcas' friendly manner towards him.

"It just exposes what that animal enjoys . . . human interaction, without it being scared or panicked or anything. I think it's quite an eye-opener."

The drone footage has been uploaded by Kynman-Cole, who started his photography business after initially capturing scenic sights and environments on a drone as a hobby.

The 30-year-old, also of Army Bay, said he had heard about the sightings via a whale-dolphin interest group on Facebook, where people regularly posted information on sightings so people may enjoy wildlife in the area.


''There was a sighting originally in Red Beach in the early afternoon . . . that there were heaps of orcas and they were heading east along the peninsula towards, originally, Stanmore Bay.

"I ended up seeing them from Tindalls Bay. They worked their way along the coast - I could see them with binoculars there. I went to Army Bay with the hope of seeing them again. At that point, I saw them and I had the chance to get the drone out and fly it out to see them,'' he said.

"The lighting wasn't fantastic, but the human element - having the kayaker there - is what has made this really special.''

Kynman-Cole said it was a special sight seeing someone interacting so closely with the orca.

"I was really excited to film that moment, because it's just a rare occurrence.

"He seemed comfortable there. I don't know if I would've been getting off the kayak myself, but I certainly would've really loved to be in his position on the water - scary, but incredible at the same time.''

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